27th October 2016

Because it Matters

So you have to get to work 15 minutes early just to park your car somewhere safe. That means a 10-minute walk along a dark, unlit walkway to get to the place of work. You aren’t allowed to enter through the main customer entrance, your staff entrance is around the back, down another alley. There is a black uninviting door near the bins and the smoking area. As you enter the floor is scruffy, it obviously doesn’t get the same amount of care that the customer areas get. There is rubbish and the general detritus of a lot of human traffic lying about. You make your way past the boxes and untidiness to the changing room which is also dark, smelly and uncared for before finally put on the appropriate clothing to start your day.

When you finally open the door to the customer area of your place of work, the lights are bright, the place is clean and it is showtime. It is time to look after your clients and provide an excellent level of customer care. But wait! That was last year’s mantra. This year we are aiming for customer delight, not customer care.

What is going on here is more than ironical. It is unworkable. If, as business leaders and business owners, we can’t be bothered to care for our people why would we expect them to expend the thought and energy to care for our customers? Now the story above is fictional but it is based on the personal experiences of people I know who work in this case, in healthcare. We expect them to show the highest levels of genuine care but we don’t display any care at all to them.

Richard Branson said that the customer doesn’t come first. The staff come first. If we look after the staff, they will look after the customer. It is simple and it is logical and yet it is so often so rare.

The leveraged way to manage a business is this. The business owner/ leader’s first duty is to look after the team. The team’s first duty is to look after the customer. The customer can then look after the business, by continuing their patronage and becoming raving fans and the business in turn will look after the owner by providing the reward for getting everything else right.

If your team aren’t continually displaying the behaviours that you would hope, then perhaps you should look at the behaviour you show them. How do we treat our people and is that in line with our standards and how we would expect them to treat our customer? We have to be better than that, because it matters; probably more than we think.